Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Yono's - another good Albany restaurant

We are slowly finding good places to eat here. Yono's is one of the oddest, in an entirely good way!

The location put Jenny off initially: it's in the downtown Hampton Inn. The front bar area has a casual brasserie, and the chef - Yono - was out there socialising and enjoying his wine list :). But the formal dining room is through a further door, and leads to a cozy, very elegant room that reminds me very much of Victoria&Albert's at Disney: a secluded escape space much more upscale than its surroundings. Service was excellent and very much in line with the space; they didn't blink at our informality (we were not expecting such a place!) or the presence of two small boys. Kudos.

The menu has two halves: one is Indonesian, reflecting I believe Yono's birth and upbringing, with the other being fairly standard US/international. Choosing was *difficult* - there are enough items which have high appeal that I would have had no trouble placing three or four complete orders [kurobuta marinated pork belly, an interesting foie preparation, alligator, ostrich (with mushrooms and more foie)... an that's ignoring the Indonesian side]. We went, though, for the special mini-tasting menu offer of four courses for $44, wine three wines paired for only $10 more. Pretty superb value. [Aidan had Indonesian fried rice and a fish dish that I am blanking on.]

The food didn't quite live up to the high expectations, but was never bad: the venison of my main course was simply a little too bland and overwhelmed by unsubtle fig sauce, the snapper of the appetiser slightly overcooked. But some items were great: the presentation of Jenny's bisque as a cup of tea with a fried wonton as the teabag, the slice of almost-raw tuna as an amuse-bouche, and other touches. Looking at the menu online right now, it's entirely changed for today, suggesting an unusual responsiveness to ingredient availability, and we plan to return several times. The wines also deserve mention: generous pours, well-matched, high-quality, and again not a hint of reservation at replacing a newly-opened but corked bottle.

Overall, remarkably good and a hugely pleasant surprise. Very glad to find Yono's as we continue to explore Albany's dining scene.

No comments: